English poetry

Poets Biographies Poems by Themes Random Poem
The Rating of Poets The Rating of Poems

Poem by Isabella Valancy Crawford

The Canoe

My masters twain made me a bed
 Of pine-boughs resinous, and cedar;
 Of moss, a soft and gentle breeder
 Of dreams of rest; and me they spread
 With furry skins, and laughing said,
 "Now she shall lay her polish'd sides,
 As queens do rest, or dainty brides,
 Our slender lady of the tides!"
 My masters twain their camp-soul lit,
Streamed incense from the hissing cones,
Large, crimson flashes grew and whirl'd
Thin, golden nerves of sly light curl'd
Round the dun camp, and rose faint zones,
Half way about each grim bole knit,
Like a shy child that would bedeck
With its soft clasp a Brave's red neck;
Yet sees the rough shield on his breast,
The awful plumes shake on his crest,
And fearful drops his timid face,
Nor dares complete the sweet embrace.
Into the hollow hearts of brakes,
Yet warm from sides of does and stags,
Pass'd to the crisp dark river flags;
Sinuous, red as copper snakes,
Sharp-headed serpents, made of light,
Glided and hid themselves in night.
My masters twain, the slaughter'd deer
Hung on fork'd boughswith thongs of leather.
Bound were his stiff, slim feet together
His eyes like dead stars cold and drear;
The wand'ring firelight drew near
And laid its wide palm, red and anxious,
On the sharp splendor of his branches;
On the white foam grown hard and sere
    On flank and shoulder.
Deathhard as breast of granite boulder,
    And under his lashes
Peer'd thro' his eyes at his life's gray ashes.
My masters twain sang songs that wove
(As they burnish'd hunting blade and rifle)
A golden thread with a cobweb trifle
Loud of the chase, and low of love.
"O Love, art thou a silver fish ?
Shy of the line and shy of gaffing,
Which we do follow, fierce, yet laughing,
Casting at thee the light-wing'd wish,
And at the last shall we bring thee up
From the crystal darkness under the cup
    Of lily folden,
    On broad leaves golden ?
"O Love! art thou a silver deer,
Swift thy starr'd feet as wing of swallow,
While we with rushing arrows follow;
And at the last shall we draw near,
And over thy velvet neck cast thongs
Woven of roses, of stars, of songs ?
    New chains all molden
    Of rare gems olden!"
They hung the slaughter'd fish like swords
On saplings slenderlike scimitars
Bright, and ruddied from new-dead wars,
Blaz'd in the lightthe scaly hordes.
They pil'd up boughs beneath the trees,
Of cedar-web and green fir tassel;
Low did the pointed pine tops rustle,
The camp fire blush'd to the tender breeze.
The hounds laid dew-laps on the ground,
With needles of pine sweet, soft, and rusty
Dream'd of the dead stag stout and lusty;
A bat by the red flames wove its round.
The darkness built its wigwam walls
Close round the camp, and at its curtain
Press'd shapes, thin woven and uncertain,
As white locks of tall waterfalls.

Isabella Valancy Crawford

Isabella Valancy Crawford's other poems:
  1. Bouche-Mignonne
  2. An Interregnum
  3. Said the Wind
  4. A Battle
  5. His Sweetheart

Poem to print Print


Last Poems

To Russian version


English Poetry. E-mail eng-poetry.ru@yandex.ru